Do you ever feel that tap on your shoulder to do something? Likely, the bigger question is: what do you do when you feel the tap? Shrug it away? That's what I did about 24 years ago. This is not meant to be an episode of "True Confessions", but many of you know I no longer drink alcohol. About 24 years ago, I was struggling with it a bit, feeling like I drank too much or got a bit out of control, sometimes, when I did drink (you can read into any massive understatements if you know me better). While I never had any issues with work or the law or losing a house or car or marriage, I was beginning to feel a tug to do something different. It just so happened that Dave and I were living in New Mexico at the time. I was driving back and forth from Alamogordo to Las Cruces four or five times a week for graduate school (over an hour drive each way), which means I had a good bit of time on my hands. Don't ask Dave to talk to you about the times where I would literally set my textbook on the steering wheel and read while I drove that very lonely and desolate highway back and forth (I say "desolate" so you will side with me when I say, "But there weren't any cars around, so I'm sure reading while driving wasn't THAT dangerous").
But back to the "tug". One day, while I was driving, I did what any self-respecting God-lover would do: I asked for a sign. "If I should not drink anymore, I'm asking you, God, to give me a sign." I had been listening to a Country station on the radio (if you want some more fun stories, I can tell you about how Dave and I met doing Country Western ballroom-style dancing in Dallas), and, all of a sudden, a song I had never heard by Kenny Chesney came on the radio. It was called "That's Why I'm Here" (Click the link to hear the song). Never before or since then have I heard a song about Alcoholics Anonymous, but there it was. So, I did exactly what made since...I changed the station and said, "I'm sure that wasn't the sign I was looking for." :) I wish I could tell you I was lying to you. I literally asked for a sign, heard it, and shrugged it off. Why? I suppose I simply wasn't ready.
Four years later, I was ready, and I haven't drunk alcohol for the last 20 1/2 years (which is good for me and also good for everyone around me). :)
Why am I telling you this oh-so-personal story? I think I felt called to do it, first of all, and I don't mess around with God's callings anymore. I was called last spring to go on a Habitat for Humanity build in Kenya with my dear college friend, Cid, who led the group, and I have been blessed beyond measure ever since then. I became friends with the teachers and principal at the school where we built the classroom, and we are plotting ways for me to go back and help teach them some new engagement strategies and questioning techniques to help their beautiful students learn and grow more effectively.
I was recently "called" to do service work at our Episcopal church. I am now a reader at least once a month, which is such a simple task (I mean, who can't read?) but not everyone wants to get in front of the congregation and do it.
When I think about the trajectory of my life's work, I also believe each step has been a "calling". I was called to teach at the ripe age of 6 years old, although I still can't figure out how those stuffed animals never did learn how to add and subtract numbers the way I wanted them to (my mother said I would talk to them so patiently, she knew I was destined to be a teacher---either that or a psycho, right?). Becoming a counselor was a calling, one in which I got to talk to middle school students about their first break-ups with boyfriends and girlfriends or about their frustrations with a particular teacher who just didn't seem to understand them. I was called to become a principal, a career move that provided so many blessings to me, I can hardly believe it. Now, as I have the honor of being able to work with schools, districts, territories, and even countries on their education systems, I feel called to always be my authentic self. I may still be trying to figure out what that is exactly (I know my authentic self loves chocolate milkshakes, but my current body has told me I could stand to lose a few pounds, so I am running everyday instead), but I feel I am at least on a path that makes sense. And I feel at peace when I get on my knees every morning and pray for God to simply help me be the person He intended me to be...and for me to listen to any taps or tugs.
Just for today, perhaps we can consider what it is we are called to action to do or be...and move toward that. What are your gifts and how can you share them with others?